By Aytan Waxman, Staff Writer
What do Mark Zuckerberg, Jerry Reinsdorf, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel all have in common? The founder of Facebook, owner of both the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, and Simon and Garfunkel singers were all members of Yeshiva University’s newest brotherhood. While all of these celebrities are Jews, I am not talking about the Jewish brotherhood. Being a flagship institution for Jewish education has been our thing for a while. I am referring to Alpha Epsilon Pi, the “world’s Jewish college fraternity”.
This is not the first time YU will host a fraternity, as there have previously been both AEPi and ZBT contingents. Those didn’t last too long. But thanks to YU student Robert Okun’s hard work, AEPi is starting fresh in YU.
“The addition of the AEPi chapter will bring a positive addition to the Yeshiva University campus and the start of the fraternity will add a new culture to the already great college,” Okun said.
While universities around the world have clubs and secret societies, the American fraternity is unique. Dating back to 1776, the Phi Beta Kappa club was the first to bring Greek life to existence. They started the trends of greek names and mottos, coat of arms, and a secret handshake. Of course, the trend grew and other fraternities began sprouting around the country.
When Charles C. Moskowitz was a student at New York University in 1913, he wanted to join a fraternity. While he received some invites, his Jewish peers were denied the coveted invitation to. That led him and his chevra to get started on their own fraternity. On November 7th, AEPi was born. Now, there are more than one hundred and fifty active chapters across the world and over 110,000 members.
Okun has been taking this work very seriously to ensure the success of the comradeship, and to ensure that the process goes smoothly. He’s been in contact with the headquarters of AEPi and has been speaking with them on a weekly basis to figure out the rushing process.
“It’s the brotherhood. The bond of being in the fraternity and being a founding brother with a group of guys who enjoy it as much as I do is what I look forward to. I look forward to meeting all the new guys and making bonds with them that will last a lifetime,” Okun said.
The AEPi mission statement, as found on their website, is “to provide education, resources and training to the future leaders of the world’s Jewish communities. This mission is demonstrated every day through acts of brotherhood, Tzedakah (charity), social awareness and support for Jewish communities and Israel.”
Their site continues to express their purpose as a way to provide to the Jewish youth seeking both a college and fraternity experience. At its core, it is a way for Jews to stay connected to Jews, even within Greek life.
If you are wondering if a sorority is on the horizon at Stern, Okun has not yet been in contact with Stern regarding a sorority.
“If the girls are as committed as me and my friends, then I think it’s a great idea,” Okun said.